The Brake Pad FAQ
compiled & edited by Kristian #562
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.

If you are looking for information on how to BLEED your Brakes, see the Brake Maintenance FAQ
For Other Brake Questions see the:
Brake Light FAQ
Brake Questions Misc FAQ


Brake Pad Replacement FAQ:
by Kristian #562

DISCLAIMER: My Father told me a long, long time ago, if you are buying a used vehicle, there's two things you need to make REALLY sure of; Brakes & Tyres. Changing the Brake Pads is a simple job, but nevertheless should not be done someone who is not that confident with their mechanical abilities. I'd say that very little mechanical experience is OK if you are mechanically inclined. Having no Brakes is not much fun and is just plain dangerous. See also the Brake Maintenance FAQ.

It's also a good time to bleed the brakes, i.e. change the brake fluid, which absorbs air with time and becomes a more compressible fluid, with the resultant that your Brakes get spongy. Bleeding Brakes is left to another FAQ at this Stage.

Note 1: You CANNOT swap pads from front to rear on either model. The OEM pads have a chamfered corner (angled) that you can see with a flashlight. If there is no chamfer left the pads need to be replaced. BradG

Note 2: Most brake pads have some type of wear indicator: Typically an angled cut on a corner of the pad material, or a groove of a certain depth. When it reaches that it's time to change. Don't let them go down less than 1mm.

Note 3: Yes, the GS and the Classic Brake Pads are the SAME.

  1. See the Maintenance Log on Flash's F650 FAQ Maintenance Log for the Type of Brake Pads available for the F650. The EBC & Galfer Pads are recommended, the Ferodo Squeak, in my experience. I've had both EBC & Ferodo. Here are some more details on the Galfer pads, from Shank:

    Bendix (out of production)  The part # is (WAS): MA174. Impossible to find as they don't make them any more! Apparently they are SBS Pads.

    From: "Jones, Peter EXPORT" <>
    To: "'faq A'"
    Subject: FW:
    Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 19:06:44 -0700

    Sorry but Bendix Australia do not make any pads to suit motor cycles and have not since the late 1970s.

    Regards, Peter.

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Gary Kies <>
    Subject: Re: Bendix Motorbike Brakes
    To: Snipped

    Yes, we do sell Bendix brake pads. We do not stock the MA174 or any other compound of the 174 style. Have your dealer contact Parts Unlimited for SBS brand pads.

    BMW Replacement Pads

    This weekend I installed a replacement set of genuine BMW replacement front brake pads on my 1997 Funduro. The entire job only took 30 minutes and I discovered that you receive several extra parts in the pad kit for the additional $15 that you pay over the cost of after-market pads. In addition to the pads, I received the retaining pin, the J-clip to hold it in place, the upper pad spring and another plate (that I had never noticed before) that fits vertically in front of the pads. These look like parts that are worth replacing occasionally, as they tend to get rusty and gorpy after a few years of use in the calipers. So far, my renovated brakes are working great. While I was at it, I also changed the brake fluid, just for fun. Richard #230, Pacifica, CA

    BMW Part #'s:

    Carbon Lorraine

    The site has a a Catalogue for you to choose which bike and which usage. (AV=AVANT=Front in French); (AR=ARRIERE=Rear in French)

    For the Classic they list:

    Front: Model #2396. Choose A3 or S1

    Rear: Model #2353 Choose RX or S2
    Reference : 2396
    108,5 x 40,1 x 7,7 mm
    Reference : 2353
    78 x 41,3 x 9 mm


    For the GS/Dakar they only list the A3 and the RX

    Kevlar Front FA209, EBC (Black?) Rear FA213 . I measured a new set of EBC pads I bought for a 97ST. Each front pad has 5/32" (4 mm) of material. Each rear has 1/4" (7 mm). The bottom of the wear indicator slot is about 1.5 mm. Teddco


    Ferodo FDB2006 Front, FDD2005 Rear. (But they are hard and I think they squeak). FDB2006ST (ST=Sintered, but Sintered Pads CAN eat Rotors!)
    Refer Opinions on Pads below.

    Galfer Part Numbers are: FD172 for the front. FD165 for the rear.

    Available pad compound numbers are: Kevlar 1532 for the Greens, Carbon & Kevlar 1434 for the Blues, Semi-Metallic Carbon 1054 for the Blacks.
    Some people use green in front, blue in rear, although some members say the Greens wear fast. Note that one downside to aftermarket pads is they don't come with the additional hardware (clips/pins), although you can normally re-use the OEM ones. Check them well however.!

    You may also see these numbers on the Galfer Pad Box: (Thanks to HsN for all these numbers)
    Galfer Green (Kevlar) front 172G1532

    Galfer Blue Rear 165G1434
    Galfer Black Rear 165G1054

    I went to the source ( ). order a set of FD172 G-1532 pads. they are the Galfer greens for the front, from '93-present. FD172 is the style, G-1532 is the compound. These are the "green" Kevlar, organic compound that have excellent stick, no fade and are easy on the rotors, unlike the sintered H or GG pads. There are part number differences for the rear beginning in '01, and I have no idea why. for your bike the number is FD186, but the person I spoke to said CalBMW should call them about availability of different compounds. So if you really want Galfers for the rear, have them call Galfer. I think most people go with Galfer blacks in the rear, which I believe they have. Personally, I've been running the same stock rear pads for 25K miles, and they are at about 75%. I don't want anything grippier on the rears than what I've already got, nor something that wears faster. I was getting about 6-8K miles out of my Galfer fronts. Galfer is online at Mark #403.


    Numbers are Front SBS674, Rear SBS675 for Classic, GS, Dakar and Scarver.


  2. So far this FAQ deals only with the Short, Fast & Simple Way of changing your pads. If you have low miles and do little dirt, no problem. Otherwise I would recommend taking off the Rear Wheel/Front Wheel and giving yourself a bit of room, but this is not necessary if you know what you doing and are careful or need to replace your pads in a hurry. So long as you know that: 

  3. Taking off the wheels also allow you to clean (Compressed Air is Good) all the Brake Pad Dust from around the pads. It allows you to check the state of the springs which sit behind the edge of the Brake Pad. 

  4. Taking off the wheels also allow you to clean around the outside of the Brake Piston Dust because when you push it back in (to fit in the new Pads with more MEAT on them) you may push some of the dirt stuck on the Piston into the Sealing Rings around the Piston, causing Brake Leaks. These sealing rings seal the Piston and the Casing so when you apply the Brakes, Fluid doesn't escape. It will also allow you to take out the anti-squeal spring and bend it so that it holds the pads more firmly. This is the little spring BEHIND the squared-off end of the Pad, so you will need to remove your wheel and disc to access it.

  5. Taking off the wheels will also allow, if you got OEM Pads, to replace the Spring that comes with the OEM pads or taking it out and giving the existing one a little bend. Aftermarket Pads don't come with the spring.

    For Rear Wheel Removal & Replacement, see the Rear Wheel Removal FAQ.
    For Front Wheel Removal & Replacement, see the Front Wheel Removal FAQ. You do NOT need to remove the Brake Caliper. If you do remove the caliper WATCH THE THREADS of the two bolts. Make sure they are PRISTINE before you replacement or you will Jam them in the caliper and wreck the threads when removing them to see what the problem is. A good reason NOT to remove the Caliper too often.

  6. When your brake pads wear the little Piston that Pushes them out move more toward the Brake Disc, resulting in a drop of your Brake Fluid level as the displacement of the Piston is replaced by the Fluid. IF you have been filling up your Brake Fluid reservoirs to the maximum, when you push the Pistons BACK to get the old Pads out and the new ones in, the reservoir can overflow. So step one is to check your reservoir level and if it is Full, then get a Turkey Baster and remove some fluid, say back to the minimum. This is mostly applicable to the Rear Brake Reservoir as the front one is more tightly sealed. Remember that Brake Fluid is caustic and will strip your Paint, so try not to spill any. You will need to remove the RHS body panel to get to the Reservoir.

  7. Rear Brake: After you have emptied your reservoir a little, remove the Stainless Safety Split Pin (The pin with a 90 degree bend, top of picture) with a pair of needle-nose pliers: This pin is at the end of the Steel Retaining Pin holding the upper end of the Brake Pads.

  8. After you pulled out the Safety pin, Drive out the Retaining Pin, using a Small Drift, through the small hole. Drive it from the outside TOWARD the Hub. There is a small expansion shell retainer at the end of the Pin closest the Hub, so it IS DIFFICULT to get it started. A couple of good whacks are required.

  9. The Pads are now free. Grab the upper end of the Pad farthest from the Hub (Outside Pad) and pull it firmly and slowly away from the hub, perpendicular to the hub. Do NOT try to remove it at this stage, what you are trying to do here is push the Piston back into its mounting. This is when the reservoir level fills up. When you feel it is back as far as you can go and the pad is loose against the Disc, remove the outside Pad, by lifting it up just a little and moving the whole thing toward the Disc. You can then Pull it out beside the Disc.


  11. If you do dislodge the spring, the Manual says Make sure the spring is correctly seated and installed right way around: engraved arrow must point in forward direction of travel.

  12. Wiggle the Brake Assembly so that the other (inside pad) Pad has more room and remove this Pad in the same way. NOTE the direction the Pads came out. The new Pads go back the same way.

  13. That's the removal completed. At this stage you can give the Disc Brake a bit of a clean. Compressed Air if you have it or a brush and some water if not. You can also try to clean the piston a bit, but you MUST be VERY careful it doesn't pop out of the Disk Brake Housing. To do this very gently squeeze the brake handle or Pedal until the Brake piston is JUST far enough out that you can see the clean shiny silver-coloured piston. Give the rest of the piston, from the silver part to the end closest the pad a good clean. I would recommend only cleaning the piston AFTER you have cleaned the rest of the Brake Housing, to avoid contaminating the piston, or you will be looking at putting in new brake seals soon too.! You will need to PUSH the piston back as far as it will after cleaning, as indicated in (8) above or you will not get the new Pads in. Check the Pistons are CLEAN. What often happens is that as the pads wear the pistons extend further and further out of the caliper until you change the pads. Then with new pads you push 'em back in again. But if you didn't clean the piston's at all, all that gunge ends up going back into the seal and can cause the piston's to "stick" somewhat, which often causes Binding Brakes.

  14. Pad Replacement. Some people put Copaslip (A Copper Dry Grease) on the BACK of the New Brake Pads to stop Brake Squeal before replacement. If you do this DO NOT get any on the Pad. i.e. the material that touches the Disc.

  15. Slip the new Pads into place, first the inside one, sliding it down close to the Disc, then moving it toward the hub into position so that the tab at the end fits snugly into the disk assembly. Make sure the springs were not dislodged. Note that before the retaining Pin goes in the Pads fall down a little. Wiggle the Brake assembly across away from the hub and install the outside Pad, again sliding it down close to the disc and then pushing it into position so that the tab at the end fits snugly into the disk assembly. If you cannot get the second pad in you probably didn't push the piston across far enough.

    Alternatively, Chris in Santa Cruz, CA #782 writes: The key to the spring is to place the pads in first, put the furthest away pin in next to hold the pads, then slide the spring underneath the first pin and while pressing the other end of the spring down slide the second pin in.

  16. Put anti-seize on the pins! See Brake Pad Pin Removal Problems.

  17. Lift the Tabs at the upper end of the Disks up and slide in the retaining Pin, from the Hub outward, making sure the expansion-shell end of the pin is closest the Hub. DRIVE, with a few good whacks, the pin into position. Install the Spring Split Pin. Give your Foot Brake a couple of good pumps until it engages. It will take a couple, at first it feels like NO Brakes. Check your reservoir level and top up if necessary. Top up with DOT 4 Brake Fluid.

  18. For the Front Brakes, you will need to remove the Plastic Cover First, it's just a couple of Allen Screws, then the procedure is exactly the same as the rear Brake. I don't think it's necessary to empty some of the Front Brake Reservoir (RHS of the Handlebar just next to the Throttle), however if you cannot get the Piston pushed Back Far Enough, you may need to empty it a little first. Undo the Two Screws, take off the Lid, CAREFULLY Pull OUT the Rubber Diaphragm and get to work with the Baster. Use some cloths to stop Brake Fluid Dripping onto your paint.

  19. Lastly: IMPORTANT. The brakes will NOT engage immediately. You must give them a good couple of Grabs (Front) or Pumps (Rear) to bring them to a point where they are useable again. So if you live on a hill, don't go scooting off down the road without doing this first, please. I'd like to see the Chain Gang Membership to increase, not decrease :-)

Notes: Fork Oil or Brake Fluid on Brake Disk/Pads


Q. Will it eventually burn off? Do I need a special cleaner for the pads?

General Feedback on Brake Pad Replacement:

Brake Pad Pin Removal Problems?
by Andy Leeds UK #982

With the first MOT (annual inspection starting when 3 years old) coming up, I decided to change the front pads. What an absolute pig of a job. Getting the caliper off and pushing the pistons back is easy enough. Take car mind, the fluid goes back into the reservoir with some pressure and will spray over the paintwork if you don't lay a rag over the reservoir. The BMW manual says to drive the pin out with the caliper on the bike (having pulled the pin out), but this proved impossible. Removing the caliper showed the problem. The pin is untreated steel with a monkey metal bush at the head end, the caliper is aluminium. As grease is an alien concept to BMW, both the tapered end of the pin and the bushed end had seized solid. No amount of hammering or even a 3 tonne press at work would shift it, although I did manage to compress a tool steel press pin by about 2mm (don't tell the workshop manager!).

The solution was as follows, but requires a bit more equipment than most people will have. First of all you saw the middle section out of the pin so you can get the pads out. Next you use a 4mm drill and a pillar drill to drill out the tapered section of the pin. This is where you need to be very careful. The tapered end of the pin tends to push the drill into the caliper, that cuts like butter. That's why your DIY hand drill is not such a good idea. Once you have a hole, you can drive out this section of the pin with a hammer and drift. The bottom is just as bad. You need to drill with 4mm from the top (you need a long 4mm drill and a length of steel tube as a support), then use the hole as a start for a 6mm drill from the other end. The good news is that once you have the caliper cleaned up, the pins are available from Motorworks and its is the same pin front and rear.

As a preventative measure I would suggest that people consider removing the pin before it seizes and dabbing a bit of copper grease on the ends that meet the caliper. This should not cause a problem as the pin is retained by the head and its clip, and can be done with the caliper on the bike. The design (if not the parts) are the same on the FI bikes as on the classics and I bet BMW haven't started greasing things. A bit of grease now may save a lot of drilling and brake bleeding later.

Cost of prevention: 10 minutes and £0.01
Cost of fix (drilling): 4 hours, 2 trips to Motorworks (60 miles) , £1 for a pin and £3.75 for brake fluid
Cost of fix ( if you slip with hand drill): £85 for second hand caliper in Motorworks catalogue.

Points worth noting are:

What Life can I expect out of Brake Pads?

How long is a Piece of String ? As always, this is a very subjective thing, and differs depending on Brake Pad Compound, Driving Styles and Conditions. So as always with this TYPE of questions, here are some experiences:

Brake Squeal FAQ:
by Kristian #562, Flash #412

Q. I’ve just changed my brake pads. Why do they Squeal. It’s really annoying.!

Brake squeal is caused by the pads vibrating against the caliper/piston (vibration=noise=squeal).


1.       Solution 1: Rear Wheel Only. Check your wheel alignment. i.e. for the rear pads, check the numbers in the little tabs on the side of the Swingarm. They must be the same on both sides of the Wheel. It is easy, if you took your tyre off to say change the pads to get the wheel out of alignment even IF the marks read the same. The reason is that you MUST PUSH the wheel forward to the end of the adjustment travel (and keep it there) when reinstalling the tyre, otherwise the marks can “float” around inside the swing arm and give you incorrect readings. Don’t forget to DO UP those adjustment bolts AFTER you have torqued the rear wheel Nut, so you don’t lose the End-Plates and Bolts, they can work their way loose.! You won’t lose the rear wheel, don’t worry, just the Bolts/Endplates, if they somehow undo ALL the way. You do not need to take the tyre off to change the pads btw, see the FAQ above for details. There is no such adjustment on the front wheel. See the Rear Wheel Removal FAQ for more information. 

2.       Solution 2: Check your “Floating Disc Brake Unit” CAN actually “float” on the Brake Disc. i.e. the Disc Brake Unit, sits on the Wheel Axle Shaft AND is NOT jammed up against the Swingarm somehow a this could also put it out of alignment with respect to the Disc. You should be able to wobble it a lit bit. For the REAR brake, on the inside of the LHS Swingarm there is a little nib welded in place which stops the whole Disc Unit from rotating. Make sure this little Nib is IN the SLOT in the Disc Unit. Another thing to check is that the calliper pins are free. Our brakes are what's called floating calliper which means the calliper floats on a mount which keeps it centred on the disk as the pads wear. This way the brakes require no adjustments throughout the life of the pads. If the calliper begins to bind on the pins or (as in my case) the wheel or fork is put incorrectly the calliper applies uneven pressure to the pads, lessening the brakes' effectiveness. All that's required is to loosen all the stuff on the bottom of the fork a little bit, as if removing the wheel. Sit on the bike and pump the fork up and down a  time or two, then re-torque everything. To my long winded post above I would like to add: The way to check for the whole calliper thing is:

3.       Solution 3: Take out the anti-squeal spring and bend it so that it holds the pads more firmly. This is the little spring BEHIND the squared-off end of the Pad, so you will need to remove your wheel and disc to access it. Bend the spring/seat until it is tight on the pads. You will see what I mean if you look at it. There is also one on the top of the calliper which can be bent downwards slightly.

4.       Solution 4: Sand the surface of the Pads (the Pad Compound) lightly with sand paper, on a flat surface. This will remove the Glaze that builds up over time. You may need to do these several times over the life of the Pad. Some riders believe it comes from using the Brake too Lightly. This has not been confirmed. 

5.       Solution 5: Put “Copaslip”, a sort of copper based “dry” grease on the BACK of the brake pads (Just where they contact the Pad Holders). When you do this make very sure you DO NOT get ANY of the grease on the pad compound. Or you will have NO BRAKES at all.! “Dave # 093 wrote: Get yourself some brake specific grease--high temp grease made especially for brakes. Get a small container because it will last for the rest of your life. Apply a thin layer of this stuff to BACK of the brake plates--where they touch the callipers, not where they touch the disk and the squeak will be gone.”. Or use a small amount of High Temperature silicone on the BACK of the pads. 

6.       Solution 6: This one normally ALWAYS fixes the problem. Change See Flash’s Maintenance Log Maintenance Log for the Type of Brake Pads available for the F650. The EBC & Galfer Pads are recommended, the Ferodo ones Squeak, badly, in my experience. I've had both EBC & Ferodo. I believe the Ferodo ones are made in Italy and hence, as the F was originally made in Italy at  the Aprilia Factory, MAY be the OEM ones you get when you order replacements from BMW. The EBC & Galfer Pads use a softer compound, hence may not last quite as long, but they grip well and I like to have good brakes over anything else, bar tyres. you can actually SEE the harder specks in the Ferodo pads too.

7.       Solution 7: For the short term, try some Brakkleen. But in the long run, it probably won't fix your problem

Thanks to Dave# 093 for the tip on “Brake Grease.” and Rick #815



Opinions on Pad Types